Nelson Polsby

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Constitutional Mischief: What's Wrong with Term Limitations

Constitutional Mischief: What's Wrong With Term Limitations by Nelson W. Polsby On November 6, 1990, California voters by a modest margin amended their state constitution with an initiative that promises to produce far-reaching consequences. This initiative, numbered 140, one of 26 statewide measures offered on the ballot, contained four main provisions: (1) A lifetime ban on the holding of each major state constitutional office applied to persons who have served two terms, covering the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction. (2) A lifetime ban on service in the state Senate after two terms, or eight years, and the state Assembly after three terms, or six years. (3) A ban on the provision of a pension or retirement benefit for service in the legislature, other than federal Social Security. (4) A sharp permanent reduction in the expenditures allowed for legislative salaries and staff, amounting...